High Blood Pressure & Dental Care

The condition known as "high blood pressure" (hypertension) is never a laughing matter. People with hypertension have a lot to watch out for, including the impact of this disease on their dental health.

The body's natural reaction to anesthetics and pain can sometimes dramatically impact blood pressure. Your dentist needs to know, from the outset, whether you have a tendency toward high blood pressure or are being treated for hypertension. If you need any treatment that requires novocain or an anesthetic, your dentist probably will want to check your blood pressure during the procedure. Here's why:

1. Sometimes when you receive an injection of novocain you may feel a spurt of adrenalin. Adrenalin is a hormone produced in the body and represents the body's natural "fight or flight" instinct ... it's what gave the caveman the impetus for self preservation. Fortunately for us, human beings rarely need this fight or flight instinct in the 21st century, but the human body doesn't know that. It still produces adrenalin when it perceives a threat; and while your dentist isn't a threat, having sharp objects stuck in your mouth is tantamount to a threat from your body's perspective. Hence, the adrenalin rush you get sometimes when you receive injections in the mouth. Part of the whole adrenalin experience is an increase in your heart rate and breathing ... and blood pressure.

2. If you are receiving medication for hypertension, some can either affect your sense of taste or cause your mouth to feel dry. If you are taking calcium channel blockers you may experience swelling or overgrowth of gum tissue, which can make chewing difficult. Overgrown gum tissue, in particular, can make it harder for you to keep your teeth clean around the gum line - requiring more frequent dental visits for cleaning and scaling. For serious gum overgrowth, the treatment is to surgically remove the excess gum tissue (a gingivectomy).

3. Let your dentist know what kind of hypertension medication you take so he/she will know what anestetics not to use ... epinephrine is commonly added to local anesthetics. Epinephrine administered to hypertensive patients can sometimes result in a rapid increase in blood pressure, angina, heart attach or arrhythmias.

These are possibilities not to be taken lightly.

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